When patients’ health, safety, and privacy are on the line, you can’t leave any room for error. That’s where healthcare policies come into play. Policies are guidelines that define appropriate behavior and best practices, and while every organization should have policies in place, in a healthcare setting, they’re nonnegotiable. Not only do hospital policies protect against legal liabilities and help you meet regulatory requirements, but they also prevent human error and poor communication regarding medical decisions. At the end of the day, these policies save lives.
That being said, policies are only as effective as individuals’ compliance with them, and getting full compliance without the help of technology is an uphill battle, to say the least. Luckily, hospital policy management software can make a world of difference. These applications streamline the policy creation, review and approval, distribution, and acknowledgment processes, making policy management far easier.
Common Types Of Hospital Policies
The work taking place in hospitals is extremely important, so it’s crucial that they have policies in place to keep everyone safe and ensure the highest quality of care is being given. While this is in no way a comprehensive list, here are a few policy categories to consider:
Patient Care Policies
Patient care policies help ensure that people are treated in a safe and efficient manner. This could include family presence policies, resuscitation policies, patient rights and responsibilities, and abuse and neglect policies (among other things).
Health Privacy Policies
In the United States, patient privacy is protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Because of this, privacy policies not only help protect the patient from having their confidential information exposed, but they also protect the hospital from lawsuits, fines, and other penalties.
Medicine Handling Policies
Medicine handling policies help make sure medications are given to the correct individual, at the correct dosage, and not to anyone who could have a severe interaction. These policies could cover, for example, drug storage, drug handling, and opioid dispensing.
Health And Safety Policies
Medical professionals face a higher risk of personal injury than most other professions; they’re often dealing with hazardous materials, caring for patients with contagious diseases, working in sometimes volatile situations, and are often pressed for time when doing so. Because of this, health and safety policies are essential.
Features To Look For In A Hospital Policy Management Software
The success of all of the different types of policies mentioned above rests on how well they can be implemented. That’s why policy management software is so crucial in a healthcare setting, but not all of these platforms are equally effective. When searching for the right application, these features are an absolute necessity:
Policy templates are a must-have feature in any hospital policy management software. To start, they will save every party involved in the policy creation process a great deal of time, as policy writers won’t have to recreate the format every time a new policy is added for years to come. Policy templates will also go a long way in enforcing standardization. Once you nail down the best possible way to organize your policies, you can replicate it, which will be of huge benefit to your employees. When every policy follows a template, they are not only easier for newcomers to create, but easier to read as people become accustomed to the format of the document.
Automated workflows are another critical feature to seek out in your hospital policy management software for one key reason: efficiency. Hospitals run at a breakneck pace, and considering the importance of the policies they have, those policies need to be created, approved, and distributed as quickly as possible – you don’t want your policies to get tied up in administrative red tape. So, your system should allow multiple stakeholders to collaborate on the same document, automatically send notifications when someone has approved or rejected a change, and overall, streamline the policy management process.
Your employees can’t follow hospital policies if they don’t have access to them – how could they? Even if your system stores all of your policies, if they aren’t organized, easily accessible, and current, the time it will take employees to find what they need could be a huge barrier to compliance. With a centralized, cloud-based policy repository, all of your policies will be stored in one, easily accessible location, available for employees to view anywhere, at any time.
Without collecting acknowledgments, you can’t prove that everyone has seen and reviewed the policy, which could place a hospital in a very bad position. If an employee doesn’t acknowledge the policy and then goes against it, and the hospital has no record of them ever signing off on it, you could find yourself accountable for poor patient care or responsible for putting people in a dangerous situation (for example, improper hygiene when dealing with contagious diseases could lead to an outbreak). This could cause harm to your patients or staff, landing you in a heap of legal trouble.
Collecting acknowledgments can largely prevent this from happening, and it’s best to do this with the help of technology. The right hospital policy management software will provide you with a comprehensive audit trail, allowing you to see in real-time who has and hasn’t signed off on the policy, and it can even send automatic reminders to those who have not.
Version control is another non-negotiable feature to look for in your hospital policy management software, as it gives employees a single source of truth for your policies. Version control makes it clear which documents are drafts and which are final versions, allows the final version to be easily found (ensuring staff does not accidentally rely on previous, outdated versions), prevents duplication of policies, and perhaps most importantly, creates a clear audit trail of the creation, changes made, and development of policies over time.
Manage Your Hospital Policies With ComplianceBridge
ComplianceBridge has everything you need to better manage your hospital policies. Our software offers policy templates to speed up and standardize the policy creation process, automated workflows to further increase efficiency, a policy library so everyone knows where to find the documents they need, and version control to ensure everyone is viewing the most current document. We even offer acknowledgment tracking so you can see in real-time who has and hasn’t signed off on a policy. With all of this and more (including access control, fill-in forms, and proactive alerts), ComplianceBridge is your one-stop shop for all of your hospital policy management needs. Interested in learning more? Request a demo of ComplianceBridge today!